- BC Games
Riled up about radio towers
About 100 residents from both sides of the Tsawwassen border turned out Wednesday evening at South Delta Secondary for a public meeting about an application to install 45-metre radio towers on the American side.
At issue is a proposal by KRPI radio in Ferndale, Wash., to install a five-tower array at McKenzie Way and Tyee Drive in Point Roberts, broadcasting at 50 kilowatts.
Concerned residents argue that such a strong signal will cause "blanketing interference" in electronic equipment, particularly in Tsawwassen. Computer speakers, cordless phones, and other electronic devices may pick up the radio signal from the towers, especially those residents living in southern Tsawwassen where the signal is strongest, according to organizers of the meeting.
Arthur Reber, who is a member of the Point Roberts Taxpayers Federation, said the KRPI application that was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not show Tsawwassen on their map, and the closest urban centre as being seven miles (11 kilometres) away in Ladner.
Reber said if the radio towers were proposed 330 metres to the north on the Canadian side, there is no way Industry Canada would approve it. Similarly, if Tsawwassen's population were located below the border, the FCC would never have approved it, he said.
The reason radio towers are usually placed away from populated centres on mountain tops and in fields is that federal regulations prohibit them being near large urban areas.
"You can't have more than a few people in that compact range where the interference is at its maximum," he said, adding the radio towers violate FCC guidelines with respect to population by a factor of 45.
Although Canadians don't have any control over the FCC, Reber urged people to write letters to Industry Canada and lobby their member of parliament, Kerry-Lynne Findlay.
Whatcom County, which is currently considering the application, has received a flood of letters and complaints since the news in August, but Reber said people don't need to send any more.
A recommendation will come from the county in two or three months, and in either case it will go before a hearing examiner–a Bellingham court judge–which both Canadians and Americans are allowed to attend.
Many attendees were allowed to speak from the audience, and most expressed health concerns about electromagnetic waves (EMF) emanating from the towers, concerns that are similar to the ones circulating around BC Hydro's installation of smart meters.
One speaker indicated EMFs are linked to cancer and other health problems, however most professional health organizations are skeptical that evidence exists linking radio waves with adverse health effects.
The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer published a review of EMFs in 2011, concluding there was inadequate evidence evidence to the claims made by those with "EMF sensitivity."
Further, Health Canada has stated, "There is no conclusive evidence of any harm caused by exposures [to electric and magnetic fields] at levels found in Canadian homes and schools, including those located just outside the boundaries of power line corridors."
Several local politicians attended the meeting, including Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, and Couns. Ian Paton and Bruce McDonald.
"It is really paramount people understand it's a federal responsibility," said Huntington, adding she was forced to respond because of all the letters she received from people.
She also urged residents to lobby Industry Canada to communicate with FCC.
"The only thing that they can do is respond to political pressure," she said.
Huntington said she met with the owners of KRPI radio on Wednesday, who were invited to the meeting but did not attend.
"Part of what troubles me is there are so many contradictions of what they want to relay to me and the public… and what their application proposes," she said.
Huntington said the radio station is moving north because of blanketing interference complaints in Ferndale while the owners claim it's to better serve their existing listener base in Washington and increase their range to Canadian listeners.
KRPI has stated it will have an engineer respond to each individual complaint and deal with the problem accordingly.